REVIEW: SCALO by Sello Medupe at Joburg Fashion Week 2023

REVIEW: SCALO by Sello Medupe at Joburg Fashion Week 2023

Ranji Mangcu

After almost a decade of showcasing at Joburg Fashion Week, Johannesburg-based designer Sello Medupe is perhaps underselling himself by not adding the title “architect” to his résumé.  

Through his label, SCALO, this designer has built a signature out of architectural silhouettes, indulgent colour and generous, yet tasteful, embellishment. His runway shows are characterised by drama – in the architectural, hourglass silhouettes, artful draping and in their theatricality.  


Even as trends change, economies fluctuate and the tides of fashion go back and forth, Scalo is steadfast in its refusal to be bland. There was a palpable sense of fun in Scalo’s Joburg Fashion Week 2023 collection, that demonstrated exactly this (and resonated deeply with my inner child).  

Founded in 2009, this label defines itself as a “modern, sophisticated African brand that aims to revolutionise structure”. Returning to Joburg Fashion Week with their distinct brand of high-octane yet functional luxury, Johannesburg-based label SCALO very aptly produced the Spring/Summer 2023 colelection as a celebration of nature in all of its beauty and abundance – in founder Sello Medupe’s words:  

“The growth of flowers, the beautiful skies and the texture of water.”

Even with many years of showcasing at Joburg Fashion Week, Sello Medupe maintains a penchant for keeping things interesting. Often, this kind of dedication to drama can translate to tackiness.  

However, Medupe is so skilful, so proficient, at ensuring that Scalo rarely shies away from drama and embellishment, that he never misses.

Medupe brought to the runway a bouquet of deep, lustrous pinks and purple and blue washes; innovative corsetry, experimental cuts, and elaborate beading in a set of Barbie-Pink 2-piece suits.  

Finished off with a tuft of hot-pink fringe at the hem, they were a stunning response to the girly aesthetic that has taken hold since the initial announcement of the Greta Gerwig-directed film of the year.  

Medupe played with dimension and texture through floral applique details. The structured elements that have become synonymous with the brand were balanced out by flowing elements, including a flouncy, lace floral dress in a light shade of violet, and a silk jumpsuit with a keyhole detail, in powdery shades of purple, lilac and pink. As the model made her way down the runway, a pair of floor-length sleeves trailed behind her like a cape. 

SCALO muse, Blue Mbombo, closed the show, with a showstopper gown, with a grandiose cape that swept along the stage. Her elegance and style added the perfect punctuation to an already glamorous collection- one we are expecting her to have first dibs on.  

You can now Shop The Runway, featuring SCALO’s looks at House of Nala by AFI, Shop U47A, Sandton City. You can also purchase the garments, online. Click here to purchase

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